Are School Buses Actually Safe?

School Bus Accidents in OhioThe Columbus school year is back in full effect, which means school buses are back on the roads. Parents want to ensure that their child is safe while riding the bus, and other drivers want to ensure that they are safe when sharing the roads with them.

This concern is natural, especially since there have been several reports in the news recently of bus accidents. In fact, there have even been a few different accidents involving school buses in various Ohio cities in recent months:

  • In October 2023, two people were injured in a school bus accident in Cortland, OH. The accident is still being investigated, but it occurred on Route 5 and 305.
  • In September 2023, a school bus crashed in Starks County, OH. The driver and five students were injured in the accident, which took place at a busy intersection close to Beeson Street.
  • Another school bus accident occurred in September 2023 when more than 20 football players were being transported to the school from a football game. The accident happened near Dayton, OH, and six students were injured.
  • On the very first day of the new school year, in August 2023, a school bus and another vehicle collided in German Township, OH. The school bus flipped over onto its side, resulting in 23 children being injured and one child dying.

With news stories like these, we understand that you might be scared. What we want you to know, though, is that collisions like these are pretty rare. While school buses do create certain risks on the road, your children are safer riding a bus than they are in almost any other type of vehicle.

The statistics on school bus safety

The National Safety Council (NSC) stated that more than 100 people were killed around the country due to school bus accidents in 2021. In contrast, Ohio State Highway Patrol reports that there were more than 1,100 people killed in motor vehicle accidents in Ohio alone in 2021. Though we believe even one fatality is too many, the numbers show that statistically, school bus accidents are rarely fatal.

What about injuries? Per the NSC, 9,700 people were injured in school bus crashes across America in 2021. However, 4,000 of these injuries were occupants of other vehicles, and 1,400 were school bus drivers. (The NSC does not identify how many people were bus passengers, cyclists, or pedestrians.) Compare this to the 1.7 million people injured in crashes across the country that year. (State-specific injury data is not publicly available for Ohio, though based on news reports we’ve seen, the number was in the tens of thousands.

Again, we reiterate that any number of injuries is unacceptable – but statistically, your child is far less likely to be injured in a school bus collision than in a crash with another type of vehicle.

What increases the chances of a school bus accident occurring?

Although the data shows that school bus accidents are less likely to happen than automobile accidents in Ohio, they do still happen. The following are five factors that increases the chances of school bus accidents happening:

  1. Poor weather conditions: Columbus residents typically see over 50 inches of rain annually and close to 30 inches of snow each winter. It is not uncommon for school bus drivers to be forced to drive and navigate the wet, icy, or snowy roads in Columbus. However, poor weather conditions can quickly lead to school bus accidents as it is harder to stop, control large vehicles, and avoid sliding or hydroplaning.
  2. Distracted or fatigued driving: When a school bus driver is not well rested or paying attention while driving, they may fall asleep at the wheel or miss an important traffic sign. This is extremely dangerous when driving a large bus with many young children on board. Therefore, bus drivers must remain focused, alert, and always have their hands on the steering wheel and eyes on the road throughout the drive.
  3. Continuous stopping and going: It is normal for school buses to continuously stop and go. They have to stop to pick up the children, and they must go to make it to their next stop. However, this can be very risky as other drivers may not notice that children are getting on or off the school bus, leading them to passing the stopped school bus and striking or running over a child.
  4. Failure to check blind spots: Just like 18-wheelers, school buses have multiple large blind spots. It requires a lot of skill to operate and drive these large vehicles. Each bus is typically equipped with large mirrors to help the driver see what is behind them or around them. However, the mirrors are still not enough to see the entirety of their blind spots. This can lead to traumatic and devastating accidents if the school bus does not notice a child entering or exiting the bus as they may be walking in their blind spots. In addition, if the school bus driver cannot see an automobile in one of their blind spots and they decide to put their vehicle in reverse or drive, it can cause a dangerous or deadly crash instantly.
  5. Higher center of gravity: Similar to semi-trucks, school buses have a higher center of gravity than small automobiles. It is common for school buses to flip or roll over onto their sides or tops. The good news is that at the end of 2021, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) implemented a new regulation to prevent bus rollover accidents. However, this new regulation will not take effect until the very end of 2024.

If you or your child suffer injuries as a result of a school bus crash, the Columbus personal injury attorneys at Soroka & Associates are here to legally represent you. Our team knows the laws surrounding these types of accidents, and we will do everything possible to ensure that the responsible parties are held accountable for their negligent actions. You and your child’s safety are a top priority at our firm, which is why we will stay by your side, fighting for the compensation you need and deserve to get back on your feet after the accident. Please call our office or submit our contact form to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation today.